Early-season snow leads to day off for a few area schools

Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Chunks of snow litter the parking lot in front of Oran High School Tuesday, November 29, 2011 in Oran, Mo. (Laura Simon)

ORAN, Mo. -- Some school districts in Southeast Missouri canceled classes Tuesday morning when parts of the area were blanketed with early-season snow.

The weather came as a surprise to some, including Mitch Wood, superintendent of the Oran school district. That area of Scott County received around three inches of snow. The Oran and Kelly school districts canceled classes for the day. The start of classes at Scott City, Scott County Central, Chaffee, Mo., and Kelso, Mo., was delayed. In Cape Girardeau County, Delta canceled classes.

Wood said he doesn't recall a time in the past when classes had to be called off due to winter weather so early in the year. He and bus drivers were out before dawn Tuesday driving the roads to check for safety.

"We just make the call based on what we feel is safe for the kids, and the roads were really slick this morning," he said.

The district might start late when there is snow on the roads, he said, but makes the decision to cancel classes if it seems the buses can't get to where they need to go. Around 60 percent of the district's students live in rural areas where the buses need to run.

Laurie Romas was working at Gelsheimer's' Market in Oran on Tuesday afternoon and said she was OK with her 7-year-old son Nicholas being out of school for the snow. She said she had heard several stories of slipping and sliding on the roads from truck drivers who came into the store early, as well as her husband, who told her he had to drive slowly because of snow-covered roads between Oran and Benton, Mo., on his way to work that morning.

"We also have a lot of young drivers who don't need to be out in it," Romas said, referring to Oran High School students.

Missouri school districts with five-day school weeks are required to hold classes a minimum of 174 days per year, with 1,044 hours of actual pupil attendance. The school calendar includes six makeup days, plus half of additional days lost, up to a total of 10 makeup days, according to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The remainder of the days and hours lost may be forgiven under the state's "inclement weather forgiveness" rule.

Highways and many secondary roads in Scott County had been cleared of snow by Tuesday afternoon either by state or city road crews or by melting.

Tom Bowen with Southeast Missouri State University facilities management shovels Cape Girardeau's first wintery mix of the season off the steps in front of Academic Hall Tuesday morning, November 29, 2011. (Laura Simon)

Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter said Tuesday morning there had been no accidents reported but said he knew some drivers had gone off the roadway and into ditches. Those incidents go unreported as accidents because the drivers often call friends for help or are helped by sheriff's deputies when a car is spotted off the road, he said.

"The roads are not that bad, just slushy," Walter said.

Numerous school districts in Butler, Dunklin, Mississippi, New Madrid, Pemiscot and Stoddard counties also canceled classes or announced delayed starts Tuesday.

By midmorning, the Cape Girardeau Police Department reported four accidents since 1 a.m., three of them on Interstate 55. The Jackson Police Department reported none.

The storm system dropped anywhere from sleet and a dusting of snow in Jackson to between two and four inches of snow near the Missouri-Arkansas border Monday night through Tuesday morning. It moved northeast through the day Tuesday, leaving colder air in Southeast Missouri that will stay at least through the beginning of next week, according to the National Weather Service. Forecast highs through Monday range from the low to mid-40s. There are several chances in the forecast for rain showers.

According to the National Weather Service, the snow was caused by a powerful upper-level low that mixed with colder air moving over the region. Snowfall totals from the NOAA National Climatic Data Center for southern Missouri from 1981 through 2010 show combined average total snowfall for November at less than half an inch.

eragan@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

310 Church Street, Oran, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: